Samsung HMX-H200 review

17 Aug 2010

Superb image stabilisation, a powerful zoom and good video quality combine to make a top-value camcorder

Samsung HMX-H200
Price when reviewed: 
253(£252 inc VAT)
5

Selling camcorders is a tough old business right now. With smartphones, DSLRs and compacts all now offering HD video modes, the traditional barrel-shaped video shooter is under threat. So what can Samsung's budget H200 offer that an equivalent point-and-shoot camera can't?

Well, for starters, it has a huge 20x optical zoom lens, which knocks any DSLR, compact or smartphone for six. And it couples this ability to get in really close with excellent quality - there's very little chromatic aberration or barrel distortion - and a highly effective optical image stabiliser.

The latter is the H200's most impressive feature. At wide angle it smoothes out even the most unsteady of single-handed grips almost completely, and it also works well at 10x zoom if you hold the camera in both mitts. It only begins to struggle at full zoom, but that's hardly suprising given the magnification on offer. For the money, no other camera we've seen offers more effective stabilisation.

Samsung HMX-H200

It's a promising start, and image quality keeps up the good work. The H200 shoots Full HD 1080i footage at 50 fields per second at a rate of 17Mbit/sec, 720p at 25fps, and in our tests it performed well. In our low-light test, noise was kept to acceptable levels and colours were well balanced, if a little washed out. We found the autofocus to be a little slow, but generally accurate unless the light was really dim.

Audio from the top-mounted stereo mic is clear, with a wind-cut feature for shooting in breezy conditions. And we appreciated the aperture- and shutter-priority modes, which allow you to take some degree of control over your video. It isn't an outstanding performer, but it looks considerably better in the context of its low price.

The H200's is a bargain-basement camcorder, though, and it does show through in some areas. It has a 2.7in touchscreen, and touch focus, but no subject tracking or face detection. You don't get a light or a flash, and the lens cover is a manual flick-switch job. It has neither microphone input nor a hotshoe, there's no storage built-in (you have to add your own SD card), and the build is somewhat plasticky.

If you're after enthusiast features or a luxury feel then it clearly isn't the way to go, but for good-quality video at a low price there isn't much better on the market. The Samsung HMX-H200's excellent zoom lens and optical image stabilisation make it a very tempting purchase.

Details

Price ex VAT £215
Price inc VAT £253
Performance 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 6
Overall rating 5

Specifications

Camcorder HD standard 1080i
Camcorder maximum video resolution 1920 x 1080
Camera megapixel rating 3.3mp
Camcorder recording format H.264 (MP4)
Camera optical zoom range 20x
Camera optical image stabilisation yes
Screen size 2.7in
Touchscreen yes
Light? yes

Audio

Internal mic type Stereo
External mic socket? no

Dimensions

Dimensions width 59
Dimensions depth 112
Dimensions height 59
Dimensions 59 x 112 x 59mm (WDH)
Weight 270g

Storage

Memory card support SD/SDHC Card

Outputs

Composite video output? yes
Component video output? yes